Black youth: Fashion show at SF Union Square a runway for success

15 young ladies from San Francisco's Bayview District walked the runway at Macy's Union Square Friday afternoon. 

Organizers said it's more than a fashion show. It's a display of what's possible when young people in an under-served community are given opportunities. 

The event is called "SuitUp." The young women said their experience has been transformative.

During the fashion show, beauty from the Bayview was on full display. 

Young African American women, 12 to 20, dressed in business attire. 

"I've never been dressed up in a suit before, so I was like this is cool," said 14-year-old Naarai Evans

Cool and empowering. 

Damiah Coldpepper, 15, said that the suit is a tool for breaking stereotypes. "They just portray us as a loud, ghetto or angry. I feel like this is introducing us, putting us in a better light."  

This event was a collaboration between nonprofits and city agencies  to uplift the young ladies.

It includes an intensive mentoring program: encouraging them to aim high and showing them dreams can come true.

"Don't let the single parent home or the deprived community become who you are," said Taneshia Miller, CEO and Founder of Ladies in Power
She worked with the young women, addressing mental health issues, building confidence and self-esteem, and teaching them financial literacy. She, too, is from the Bayview. 

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"I didn't let my environment dictate what my future could be," said Miller.

"All that killing, stealing, robbing, there's more to life. You got to go out there and want it for yourself," said Lanailah Dixon. 
This 17-year-old said this runway event represents the best of her community and hopefully sets an example for others.

"I'm not just here modeling. I'm also standing up for me, my community, people around me that i love. I'm modeling for them," said Dixon.

"If you chose to do better things in life, things that keep you on the right track, then eventually you'll succeed," said Evans. 

Organizers said this program is about giving these young lades a voice and more importantly, a foundation for success. 
After all, empowerment never goes out of style.

Amber Lee is a reporter with KTVU. Email Amber at or text/leave message at 510-599-3922. Follow her on Facebook @AmberKTVU,  Instagram @AmberKTVU  or Twitter @AmberKTVU.